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Mangrove Nursery, Jamaica Photo: Kadir van Lohuizen/NOOR

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Ecosystem-based adaptation delivers benefits for people and nature

Ecosystem-based approaches can form an important part of human adaptation and disaster risk reduction strategies. Maintaining and enhancing mangroves, watershed vegetation and other ‘natural infrastructure’ can buffer people from extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and changing rainfall patterns. At the same time, these measures ensure that habitats continue to provide ecosystem services such as food, water filtration, and crop pollination in a changing climate.

  • Case Study 1

    Conserving mangroves in the neotropics provides a natural sea defence

    In 2010, 13 BirdLife Partners formed the Neotropical Mangrove Alliance to conserve and restore mangroves in the Caribbean. Mangroves provide a natural protective shield against strong waves and extreme storms, which are becoming more severe as the climate changes. They are important carbon stores and support a wide variety of animals including fish, molluscs, and crabs, many of which are important food sources for birds as well as local communities.

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    Conserving mangroves in the neotropics provides a natural sea defence

    Mangrove nursery, Jamaica Photo: Kadir van Lohuizen/NOOR

  • Case Study 2

    Realigning coasts helps protect communities

    Storm surges and sea level rise threaten coastal defences. However, natural habitats can help mitigate this risk. RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) is partnering with government and engineers to move defences inland and create coastal wetlands as a buffer. At Medmerry, new wetland is reducing flood risk to 348 homes. At Wallasea Island, 670 ha of newly created wetlands reduces flood risks and provides habitat for waterbirds.

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    Realigning coasts helps protect communities

    Medmerry Photo: Paul Bowie

  • Case Study 3

    Climate resilient altitudinal gradients (CRAGs) provide a focus for action in East Africa

    Intact habitats on altitudinal gradients will become increasingly important under climate change because they help control erosion, regulate water flow and allow species to move upslope. In the African Great Lakes region, BirdLife Partners are conserving the most vulnerable sites across a landscape with an altitudinal gradient of more than 1,000 m. Planned interventions will enhance the resilience of local communities to climate change and benefit wildlife.

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    Climate resilient altitudinal gradients (CRAGs) provide a focus for action in East Africa

    Lake Kivu, Rwanda Photo: Adam Jones/CC

  • Case Study 4

    Restoring tidal marshes in San Pablo Bay, USA, benefits birds and people

    Tidal marsh restoration by Audubon California in the San Pablo Bay IBA is reducing storm surge risk for neighbouring landowners while providing important habitat for threatened waterbirds such the Black Rail (Laterallus jamaicensis).

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